By Tory Newmyer
January 23, 2017

Focus on what Trump and company do, less on what they say. That would seem to be a decent lesson from the new regime’s first few days in power. Trump in his inaugural address talked up the populist themes that defined his campaign — buy American, hire American, and plow money into rebuilding America. “Protectionism will lead to great prosperity and strength” he said. He didn’t utter a word about ripping up the Affordable Care Act. Yet hours later, in one of his first official acts as president, Trump signed an executive order freeing the feds from enforcing penalties for noncompliance with the healthcare law’s individual mandate, a cornerstone of the overhaul that enables its coverage expansions. It’s unclear what immediate impact, if any, the order will carry. But the mismatch between Trump’s first presidential speech and his first presidential move is worth noting. Markets, in their way, already have. They’ve lowered expectations for a major public works program since the election, a reflection of what little the incoming administration has done to lay the groundwork for such an initiative, despite Trump’s pledge on the trail to make infrastructure spending an organizing priority. He renewed the commitment in the inaugural, promising to build “new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.” We’ll begin to find out this week — as Trump gets to work, issuing more executive orders, continuing to fill out his administration, and heading to Philadelphia to visit with Congressional Republicans at their agenda-setting retreat — whether the president intends more neatly to align his leadership with his rhetoric.

Tory Newmyer


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